Tullamore building new visitor center

Manager D.E. Williams' name was the basis for the "dew" in the brand.

TULLAMORE, Ireland -- Since new owner William Grant and Sons took over Tullamore Dew, not all the changes are behind the scenes.

The decade-old Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre is to be upgraded as part of the company's aim of making it a major tourist attraction in the Midlands.

The original center was opened in the old bonded distillery warehouse in 2000 as a joint venture between C&C -- which then owned the brand, and the tourism support service Fáilte Ireland.

The new center will include an interactive Tullamore Dew history, a whiskey tour and expert tasting sessions. The company hopes it will be completed in time for peak tourist season in 2012 and attract 40,000 visitors annually.

Tullamore Dew is the second largest selling Irish whiskey in the world, behind Jameson's. It was purchased by William Grant and Sons last year. The distillery was founded in 1829 by Michael Molloy in County Offaly.

Contrary to popular belief, the "dew" in Tullamore Dew isn't totally an homage to Irish moisture. The initials of Daniel E. Williams, the distillery's general manager in the late 1800s, were used as the brand of whiskey he created.

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